Greater City Providence

Providence Foundation 2030 Vision

Over the last six months or so, The Providence Foundation has been convening a group of what are being called Young Leaders (or Next Generation Leaders or New Leaders) to come up with the foundation’s mission statement for 2030. I have been among that group.

At the Foundation’s Annual Meeting at the end of last month, they introduced the resulting document, Providence 2030: A Vision for Downtown.

The key points of the vision are as follows:

  • We continue to grow a vibrant economy.
  • We support our world renowned culture.
  • We care for our engaging civic realm.
  • We celebrate our mobility.
  • We value and educate our youth.
  • We are a leader in sustainable practices.

The key principles guiding the vision are:

  • Inspiration – Our city should always be remarkable and inspire. Downtown Providence is a place of natural and human made beauty. We are inspired to continually create a place for which we feel proud.
  • Connectivity – Providence’s small size is an advantage. Big ideas and bold plans can achieve great impact at this scale. We benefit from strong physical connections between downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, and strong social connections between our citizens.
  • Adaptability – Our world is dynamic and evolving and our plans must be as well. We create innovative solutions, adopt best practices from other places, and learn from the past in order to inform our future.
  • Local Economy – The economy of a healthy city is supplied by local resources, served by local commerce and shaped by local citizens. This is the root of sustainability.
  • Global Identity – Our ideas and innovations can help shape the future of a successful, global society. We make every effort to share our experiences with the world. We must market ourselves to continue to attract and retain smart and talented young people.
  • Innovation – We foster an environment for new technologies, creative industries, green design and entrepreneurship. We work together to provide the physical infrastructure and social systems that responsibly support our growth.
  • Creativity – We are committed to creating conditions for creative work to thrive. We are a vibrant economy of knowledgeable innovators. We make things by hand and we honor the traditions of those crafts.
  • Diverse Culture – We embrace and engage diversity. Our interdependence is our strength. Providence must remain a place rich in culture and history that inspires its population.
  • Accountability – We set short and long term benchmarks that are targeted, quantifiable, and aggressive. We monitor our progress rigorously. We celebrate our successes and learn from our failures.

Read the full Vision document here.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.

1 comment

  • This is a very thoughtful positive document. I don’t disagree with what’s outlined, but how would we get there and what might be missing? Why 2030, why not 2020?

    It’s commendable to speak of educating the city’s youth, but how can the young adults that dropped out of high school who became gang members be enticed or convinced to become a constructive force within the city?

    Sustainable practices are admirable as a goal, especially considering the city’s vulnerability with any climate driven change in sea level. Providence could reduce its carbon footprint easily by reverting to transit modes and service that were dominant sixty years ago. What about the heating of buildings? Perhaps a new industry could be developed that could innovate heating methods less reliant on fossil fuel with resulting carbon emissions. Besides education, healthcare, and design what other industries knowledge-based or otherwise might be created?

    The report references the highest quality streetscapes, public spaces, civic buildings, landscaping and alike, but is vague or timid regarding the city’s future growth and development. How might the city regain its mid-20th century population of 250,000? Besides demographic shifts, since the 1950s housing has steadily disappeared due to highway construction, urban renewal, and the recurrent abandonment/demolition of residential buildings during declining economic periods or for creation of parking. Other than downtown, current land-use policies really don’t encourage development. Rampant NIMBY-ism from residential zones stretches well beyond their boundaries to effectively dwarf or eliminate development proposals elsewhere.

    The next steps following the Providence Foundation’s vision plan would be to create a roadmap to show how these goals might be improved upon or achieved. If there’s the political will, much of this plan could be attained in this decade.

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